We are the union for salaried doctors and dentists.

We promote, protect and support the interests of our members in all aspects of their working lives. We are working for an equitable, accessible public health care system that meets the needs of all New Zealanders.

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Advice for nurses’ strike

17 August 2021 ASMS

30-thousand nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants from the Nurses Organisation along with 1500 midwives from the MERAS union are planning strike action on Thursday 19 August, after they failed to reach agreements over pay and conditions with district health boards.  ASMS fully supports the industrial action but recognises it will have an impact on our members. We have put together some guidance on issues which might arise for you as a result of the strike.

Should all elective services be cancelled?

Yes. Even where staff may be available to provide a service, back up for services may be adversely affected by the strike. DHBs are rescheduling electives in advance so the wards are as empty as possible on the day. The day should be planned to be like a non-festive Christmas Day.

Should SMOs volunteer to work additional hours during the strike?

This is your call. You cannot be compelled to cover the work of a striking nurse. The life preserving services (LPS) agreements that your DHB will have with NZNO should ensure that patients are protected from permanent harm or threat to life.

What would be a fair rate of pay for any hours beyond your normal hours you agree to do?

Our recommendation is that additional work arising from the strike should be paid for as follows:

  • a minimum T2 of your normal hourly rate for any work requested by the employer which is work in addition to (either before or after) normal hours of work for that day
  • a minimum T2 of your normal hourly rate for any clinical work requested where the SMO would otherwise have been on non-clinical duties, and the non-clinical duties have not been re-scheduled. This rate is inclusive of normal pay, so is in effect T1 in addition to normal pay

Should SMOs do nurses’ work?

No. DHBs and NZNO will have agreements for the provision of life preserving services (LPS) to protect lives and avoid permanent harm.

However, sometimes the reality can be messy especially where both doctors and nurses might undertake similar work as part of their normal duties. These duties need to be within your scope of practice (this is the position of the Medical Council). You need to be familiar with and trained in the relevant procedures. Do not do anything you are not comfortable with.

Showing support

Many of you will want to show support for your nursing colleagues. You can do this in any number of ways, such as wearing a badge, talking with patients about the reasons they are taking industrial action, joining the picket line before or after your workday (or during a break). We know that health workers never take industrial action without compelling reasons. We support uplift of pay and conditions for all our health care workers.